WESTFIELD-Partnerships with local businesses and organizations are “vitally important” to the Boy Scouts of America, according to officials at the Western Massachusetts Council.
“It is through volunteers and local mentors and consultants that the programs are delivered to youth,” said Arthur Lobdell, assistant scout executive. “The young men and women in the program need the support of subject matter experts as well as volunteers to contribute time and support.”
Shaker Farms Country Club is the latest business to step up and assist the organization by offering a program for scouts which allows them to earn a Golf Merit Badge.
Nancy and Dan Kotowitz, owners of Shaker Farms, established the nonprofit Family Resource International after they purchased the country club.
“Our youth program teaches more than just golf skills,” said Nancy Kotowitz, adding, “it teaches kids patience, persistence, and etiquette.”
Kotowitz added that the youth program teaches life lessons by building self-confidence, fostering self-esteem, and gaining self-respect.
On the morning of July 13, seven scouts were learning golf etiquette, the rules of the game, and basic golf skills. By mid-morning after orientation, scouts were at the driving range and learning the proper way to hold a club and align oneself with the ball.
For Matthew Fontaine of Ludlow, he welcomed the advice he received since he has only been to a driving range a few times.
“I wanted to be here today since it seemed like it would be a fun time and I wanted to learn what it is like to play golf,” said Fontaine. “I learned how to perfect my swing, hold the club, and where to place my feet before hitting the ball. I am more confident now about the game.”
Ethan Davidson of Southwick took a similar view.
“I would encourage other scouts to participate in this program since it provides more insight on the game,” said Davidson, who was on the 2019-2020 golf team at Southwick Regional High School.
Highlights of the merit badge course include studying the USGA “Rules of Golf,” discussing safety while on the golf course including lightning, heat reactions, dehydration, blisters, sprains and strains, and playing a minimum of two nine-hole rounds or one 18-hole round of golf with another golfer of about the same age and with one’s counselor, or an adult approved by one’s counselor.
Lobdell noted that merit badges include connection to almost every industry and profession.
“We are seeking to expand those connections,” he said, noting there are currently 135 merit badges.
“Community partners are needed for all areas but in particular American business, American labor, animation, architecture, automotive, aviation, chemistry, crime prevention, dentistry, digital technology, engineering, entrepreneurship, farm mechanics, fish and wildlife management, graphic arts, journalism, medicine, mining, plumbing, programming, pulp and paper, railroading, robotics, truck transportation and welding,” said Lobdell.
For businesses interested in sharing their expertise with the Boy Scouts local council at 1 Arch Road, call (413) 594-9196 or visit www.wmascouting.org.
On a related note, Lobdell said the council has started a partnership with Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport.
“Scouts are using a simulator at our Camp Moses and then touring at Barnes,” said Lobdell.